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Mr. Smarty Plants - Native plants for limestone ledge with thin soil in Austin, TX

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Wednesday - February 14, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Native plants for limestone ledge with thin soil in Austin, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My back yard is essentially a limestone ledge with less than an inch of soil on the top in full sun. What native plants can live in this environment? Since I can't really dig a hole, maybe I should start with wildflower seeds.

ANSWER:

Here are some candidate native plants that should do well in thin, calcareous soils:

Grasses/Grasslike
Lindheimer muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri)
Texas Sedge (Carex texensis)
Purple three-awn (Aristida purpurea)

Herbaceous Perennials
Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)
Prairie Verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida)
Mealy blue sage (Salvia farinacea)
Four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa)
Hill Country Penstemon (Penstemon triflorus)

Herbaceous Annuals
Greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium)
Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea)
Yellow Stonecrop (Sedum nuttallianum)

Perennial Shrubs/Shrublike
Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)
Rose mallow (Pavonia lasiopetala)
Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides)
Agarita (Mahonia trifoliata)

Although your soil is thin, you might find some places deep enough to plant some of the shrubs. They are all especially well-suited to your conditions. Regarding the herbaceous annuals, they should readily reseed themselves if the mature seed heads are left on the plants to disperse.

Many of these plants can be bought as seeds from Native American Seed in Junction, Texas. You can also check our National Suppliers Directory for other nurseries and seed companies that specialize in native plants in your area. Additionally, the majority of these plants will be for sale at our Spring Plant Sale for 2007 beginning Friday, April 13 (1 to 7PM) with a preview sale for Wildflower Center members only. The sale for the general public will be held Saturday and Sunday (9AM-5PM), April 14 and 15. Please check the Wildflower Center web page closer to the weekend of the sale for a list of the plants available and for more information about the sale.

 

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